As Drama Unfolds, Newscasts Focus In On Yonkers Scaffolding Rescue

For more than an hour late Friday afternoon, two workers dangled precariously 12 stories over the side of a Yonkers high rise.

The timing of the accident (just after 5 p.m.) made for instant drama: just add water and stir.

The men who had been out on the scaffolding were ultimately brought down to street level safely.

With choppers providing live video from the scene, viewers saw all the riveting images.

Although not all images were as riveting as others, Channel 4, for example, which shares the helicopter with Fox 5/WNYW, actually had a much grainier feed than their partner. Apparently, WNBC was overcompensating for the darker, albeit clearer, picture on WNYW.

WNYW, though, was late to get to the coverage, taking approximately 30 minutes longer than WCBS and WABC for their choppers to arrive.

Once all the stations were on air and up in the air, this played out right through the 6 p.m. newscasts.

Chuck Scarborough broke into LX New York once the Fox 5 chopper was at the ready.

Scarborough anchored from special coverage into the 6 p.m. However, he occasionally yielded the floor to reporter Andrew Siff who would ask questions to guests on the phone.

Over at Channel 2, the timing didn’t work in their favor. No knock on 6 p.m. anchors Don Dahler or Dana Tyler, but when there’s breaking news, the station should keep its “A” team–Maurice DuBois and Kristine Johnsonon the air. In particular, DuBois, until passing the baton, was as smooth and natural, despite the fluid situation.  

But with a serviceable Dahler and Tyler taking the reigns at 6 p.m., WABC took the edge.

Starting out with their look–it was a coming out party of sorts with a souped-up version of “Newscopter 7.” (Although WCBS did come close with their live chopper feed.)

WABC didn’t have top anchor Bill Ritter, but with the combination of veterans Diana Williams, Sade Baderinwa, and Liz Cho, they didn’t falter.

Fox 5/WNYW, like WCBS, was forced to relinquish their top anchor at the height of the incident. Exit Ernie Anastos (with Dari Alexander) and enter Harry Martin. While Martin is certainly capable in his own right to handle any breaking news situations, this was tailor-made for the number one anchors, and the experience they bring. 

To Fox’s credit, they did bring back Anastos (and Alexander) after a brief respite, in the waning minutes of the crisis and the newscast.

Channel 11, which does not have a newscast in the early evening, did not break in for the coverage. They opted to stick with their Friends reruns.

It should be noted, though, that WPIX (in a chopper arrangement with Channel 2) ran the live video feed on their website.

As though the rescue was being directed by the stations, it was completed by 6:25. After a brief recap, each station found time to get a weekend weather check before leaving the air as usual at 6:30. Of course, though, there was nothing usual about this evening newscast.